There are days in the trenches of motherhood and homeschooling when I can't see the rewards. It is very much like planting a shade tree from seed, and having to wait 18 years before you can sit down and enjoy the shade.
Even though I'm in the thick of child-rearing, the Lord is gracious enough to give me occasional glimpses and rays of hope that show me everything is going to be OK.
Despite our flaws and short-comings, God's grace covers a multitude of parenting blunders.
Can I get an AMEN for that?
I can occasionally see that our son is maturing, and actually putting into practice some of the things that we've been teaching him all these years. He got his first little after-school job 5 months ago, and it has been a phenomenal experience for all of us. He's able to put into practice some of the skills we've taught him, and we're able to watch him spread his little wings. There are so many teachable moments and fabulous benefits to having a job. He has learned so much about the following areas:
1. Punctuality. Our son now manages his school time on his own without me nagging him to keep busy. He knows that if he's not done with school, he can't go to his job. He watches that clock like a hawk! He arrives to work on-time each day, and doesn't leave his job a minute early. He knows to give his employer an honest day's work, and keeps an honest time sheet.
2. Responsibility. He loads up his back-pack with his necessary supplies, and rides his bike to work each afternoon. If he forgets his gloves, his hands get cold (and Mom won't rescue him!) His employer depends on him to feed and water the livestock. If he forgets, then animals go hungry.
3. Communication. Our son calls his boss each day to see what needs to be done. If he is sick, or out of town, he gives his boss notice that he won't be there. Our son used to be terrified to call adults outside of the family, but his phone etiquette is getting better all the time.
4. Manual labor. He mucks stalls, feeds, stacks feed, rakes, shovels, waxes, washes, paints, and does anything else that's needed. When he comes home, he's tired, ravenously hungry, and gratified from an afternoon of working with his hands. There's no more satisfying sleep than the sleep that comes from being physically tired at the end of a productive day.
5. Consequences. If his grades slip or he's grounded, he can't go to work. Our boy tries very hard to keep on the straight and narrow with Mom and Dad so he can keep his job. It kills him to have to stay home and do chores when he's in trouble. No work = No money. Which brings me to my next point:
6. Money. He saves it, spends a little, and makes decisions on what to buy with it. He's learning the value of money, and suddenly little trinkets from the store aren't worth the amount of work it takes to buy them.
7. Giving. He's learning to give to God, be generous with gifts to his family, and give to charity.
We're thankful because our boy's boss also happens to be a friend of ours. We ask him frequently about our son's work ethic, and he assures us that he's a hard worker.
I'm pretty excited with the way our son is using his money, too. So far, he has saved to buy his very first rifle ( a BIG purchase), and recently bought two new saddle cantle bags and fencing pliers for them. While many of his peers are buying bubble gum and sodas with their cash, he has purchased some pretty practical things that will last him for years to come.
Finally, I'm thankful that our boy looks up to his dad, and imitates him. We always laugh because he's so practical, he dresses like an old man trapped in a 12 year old's body. Thank the Lord that he's homeschooled because his public school counterparts might laugh at his antics. My husband bought him a cattlemen's "Red Book" so he can keep track of our herd, his work hours, and the grain schedule for the steers. He keeps it in his shirt pocket along with a pen so it's handy at all times, the same way his dad stores his red book.. Nerd alert!!!
He also wears a scarf around his neck when it's cold, and keeps a Leatherman tool on his belt. He's practical and prepared, just like Dad.
So on those days when I have to ask him to put away his clothes, or take off his muddy boots for the thousandth time; when he refuses to write his cursive correctly, or sneaks Oreo cookies when I'm not looking, I'm going to remind myself that he IS turning out to be a fine young man... even if he wears his long johns for two weeks in a row without putting them in the laundry!
We still have a few things to work on.
Thanking God for glimpses of progress,